Judaica Subject Authority Funnel Project
Heidi G. Lerner, Coordinator
Metadata Development Unit
Stanford University Libraries, Stanford, CA 94305
On March 8, 2005 a message was sent out via Hasafran (the electronic discussion forum of the Association of Jewish Libraries), Heb-NACO (a listserv emanating from the NACO Hebraica Funnel), AutoCAT and the PCCLIST announcing the formation of the Judaica Subject Authority Funnel Project. This announcement stated that the purpose of this funnel was to provide a framework for catalogers to propose new subject headings and LC classification numbers required for cataloging materials relating to Jewish Studies and Hebraica, as well as to revise existing subject headings and classification numbers as needed. The impetus for the creation of the Judaica Subject Authority Funnel Project came out of the already extant and active NACO Hebraica Funnel which had been established in 1994. At the NACO Hebraica Funnel week-long training session, participants were taught the rudiments of submitting new and revised LC subject heading proposals but there was little activity in this area from funnel members during the following 10 years. During the 1990s and the first years of the new millennium, discussions ensued among librarians on the Hasafran and HebNACO listservs regarding various issues related to subject headings. Some of these discussions indicated a lack of familiarity with the SACO program, how to correctly formulate and submit subject heading and classification proposals, as well as how to revise extant headings and class numbers. There was also great hesitation on the part of Judaica catalogers who belonged to PCC institutions (and therefore eligible to participate in SACO) to propose new subject headings or revise established subject headings. In response to the growing need for SACO training for Judaica and Hebraica catalogers, a special 3-hour SACO workshop at LC was offered during the 2000 Association of Jewish Libraries Convention held in Washington D.C. After a tutorial, catalogers were asked to utilize their joint expertise and new-found knowledge to come up with an appropriate subject description for the Jewish expulsion from Spain in 1492 which had been providing difficulties for LC staff. The subject heading "Jews ‡z Spain ‡x History ‡y Expulsion, 1492" was submitted by Yeshiva University, a NACO Hebraica Funnel member, the following year and approved by LC.
In early 2005, following the lead of the African American Subject Funnel Project, the Africana Subject Funnel Project and the Hawaiian/Pacific Funnel Subject Project, the idea for a Judaica Subject Funnel project was proposed and brought to life in March 2005. The original proposal for the funnel name was Hebraica SACO Funnel. This was changed to Judaica Subject Authority Funnel Project to reflect the fact that the funnel would be focusing on subject/classification development rather than headings defined by language.
Since the first announcement via the above-mentioned listservs, recruitment for the Judaica Subject Authority Funnel Project has been done on an ad hoc basis. Lenore Bell and the other members of the LC Hebraica team usually say a few words on behalf of the funnel at the LC Cataloging Update session held at the annual meeting of the Association of Jewish Libraries. Members of the Judaica cataloging community and the LC Hebraica team monitor Judaica subject-cataloging related questions that appear on AutoCAT or the PCC list and inform or remind the originating cataloger about the existence of the Judaica Subject Authority Funnel Project. The Judaica Funnel has also been fortunate in being provided with a SACO Mentor to offer guidance for submitting subject proposals.
Training, Workflow, Statistics
The first institution to respond to that original announcement was Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion. Significantly this institution has not elected to participate in the NACO Hebraica Funnel and is not a member of the Program for Cooperative Cataloging. Institutional members of the PCC are automatically considered SACO members and Judaica SACO participants include a mix of catalogers at both PCC-member institutions and-non PCC-member institutions. This mixture of membership types has impacted our record-keeping and will be further discussed in this presentation.
In responding to this initial and other early expressions of interest, I was not able to provide specifics on how the workflow would develop. The first submissions were made by catalogers at non-PCC institutions and their submissions were not preceded by formal SACO applications. This discrepancy was quickly remedied. My initial instructions were to have potential contributors review the SACO webpage at the Library of Congress; use the e-mail form for proposing new headings instead of the LCSH web form for proposing new headings; fax the proposal to me and I would then review it and return the proposal to the initiator with my comments. After we have finalized our version of the proposal, the cataloger then uses the web form to submit the proposal to the Coop Cat team at the Library of Congress with his/her appropriate MARC Organization Code in the 040 field. This process has not changed since the funnel's inception. SACO is not as formalized a program as NACO and sometimes it takes a while time to get a response from LC as to whether a particular heading has been approved or not. To expedite the review process of a subject proposal, the LC team recommends that Funnel members include a note in the cataloger's note field on the proposal form: Judaica Funnel: please route to Henry Lefkowitz (the Judaica Subject Authority Funnel Project liaison at LC). As mentioned above, it has taken some time to formalize procedures for enrolling, contributing, and ensuring credit for participation in the Judaica Subject Authority Funnel Project.
Statistics and record-keeping provide their own challenges. PCC statistics are generally based on the MARC Organizational Code that is indicated in the 040 of an authority record. If a cataloger at a PCC-member institution submits a subject authority proposal and uses his home institutional code in the 040 field, there is a very good chance that a funnel project will not receive credit for that submission, rather the submission will be credited to their home institution. Several submissions were not indicated in the PCC SACO statistics for 2006 and 2007 because of confusion concerning MARC Organization Codes. This problem was solved by having catalogers who submit subject heading and classification proposals to the Judaica Subject Authority Funnel Project and work at PCC-member institutions, request a unique MARC Organizational Code for their funnel contributions, similar to the practice in the NACO Hebraica Funnel.
The number of submissions to the LCSH from the Judaica SACO Authority Funnel Project is inconsistent and varies from year to year. The question has arisen as to what happens if a funnel is unable to meet the annual contribution goal of 10-12 headings a year. This question remains unanswered but the Judaica Subject Authority Funnel Project is still functioning and active.
One of the challenges for the funnel coordinator includes working with individuals who have not undergone SACO training or attended SACO/LCSH workshops. Applicants to the SACO program are not required to attend these although it is strongly encouraged. It is very important for the coordinator of a funnel to be very specific when revising a funnel member's work, providing detailed feedback, explanations and precise references to the many tools that document and support the proper construction of a subject heading or classification proposal. Many of our proposals are complicated linguistically or theologically, or potentially controversial. There is great reliance on the HebNACO listserv by all the members of the Judaica Subject Authority Funnel Project for sharing questions, specialized knowledge, suggestions and insights with each other and our LC colleagues, and also to seek the thoughts of our larger cataloging community.
To date a variety of subject headings have been proposed and approved including Katif Blloc (Gaza Strip), Jewish Religious Poetry, Malayalm, ʿEglah arufah, Jewish fundamentalism, Nemal Tel Aviv (Israel), Communication in the Bible, Hoshanna rabba sermons, Lifesaving (Jewish law) and a variety of topical, geographical, and genre headings, and family names as well as a revision to the subject heading Jewish ethics which lacked a broader term reference to Religious ethics and conversely a revision to the subject heading Religious ethics which lacked a narrower term reference to Jewish ethics. The Judaica Subject Authority Funnel Project has also proposed several classification numbers to the LC Classification Schedules using Class Web.
Participating in and coordinating the Judaica Subject Authority Funnel Project takes time and patience. But the process more than makes up for the effort involved when we see the invaluable contributions made by our cataloging community: not just quantitatively in terms of the numbers of Judaica subject headings that are created or revised, but also qualitatively if we look at the communal discussions that take place electronically and the unique types of headings that are proposed and contributed that reflect the diverse and complex religious and theological, linguistic, historic, social, and cultural traditions found in the materials that we catalog. The Judaica Subject Authority Funnel Project currently only has members from the continental United States. We have colleagues worldwide who catalog Judaica according to AACR2rev., utilize the MARC 21 Standard and LCSH, and whose catalog includes English as one of its official languages. We are hopeful that we will expand our membership internationally and discussions are currently taking place with the libraries of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem.